The above video situates Vatican II in the world of 1962: the political climate, the social upheavals and scientific ideas. John F. Kennedy was challenging the United States to go to the moon. We had just come out of World War II, a war started in Europe, or the Christian world. It was a great time to be alive and to be Catholic.
One idea coming out of Vatican II concerned the role of the laity in the church:
“The Council pointed out that the laity can ‘also be called in various ways to a more direct cooperation in the apostolate of the Hierarchy’ and that ‘they have the capacity to assume from the Hierarchy certain ecclesiastical functions’ (33), but it is quite clear that the Council did not intend that these extraordinary forms of ‘cooperation in the apostolate of the Hierarchy’ (such as the liturgical functions of lector and Eucharistic minister) should cause the laity to be cast as miniature clergy instead of being encouraged to engage in their own proper apostolate, which is the transformation of the social order in Christ.” (http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=609)
“Which is the tranformation of the social order in Christ.” Wow! What a mission. I could really get into that as a 19 and 20 year old and still can today. I did, with the Passionists, starting with Fr. Joe Van Leuuwen, C.P. inviting me to teach CCD at the Parish, and continuing on to this day with all sorts of exciting challenges and assignments that different Passionists offered me and I accepted.
In the above quote we also read: Lay Associates or Partners in our case, are not intended to be miniature Professed but should “engage in our own proper apostolate”. I accomplish this in my world by taking the great gifts the Passionists have given me and adapting them as best I can, to the real world in which I live, move and have my being, i.e. Teaching, Life Insurance Sales and the volunteer work I do as a retired person. In his book A Monk in the World, Wayne Teasdale presents the challenge I believe is the challenge for us The Passionist Partners of today:
“ Without doubt, there is great value in spirituality that emphasizes and supports withdrawal from society. But in our time, with its special needs, we require a spirituality of intense involvement and radical engagement with the world. It is in the real world that people live their busy lives, and it is in the real world that the wisdom of the monks must be made accessible. It is in the real world that their awakening and development need to occur, not off in remote solitude.” (p xxi)
Finally, the Passionists from the time of St. Paul of the Cross have always committed their lives to the above ideal of bringing the wisdom of the monks to the world. They did this by spending six months a year in strict monastic observance and six months in active ministry. With the crumbling of the monastery walls in our world today, I hope we Partners can continue this ideal in new forms that are not yet fully realized.
Next week: An even more seismic event than Vatican II, in my mind is the Internet. How does the Internet change our way of being together and the forms of Passionist ministry.